Packing Peanuts Can Recharge Batteries

March 25, 2015 at 6:17 pm
filed under Cool Tech, FYIs

A team of scientists from Purdue University, in West Lafayette Indiana has developed a recycling technique thatconverts foam used in packaging into carbon electrodes for high-performance rechargeable lithium ion batteries.

These small foam objects are typically used to protect worldwide shipments, and more or less seen as a noisy nuisance, and they are recyclable, but only 10% is acutally recycled. Zeca Oliveira has learned that, because of its low density, large containers are required for transport and sent to a recycler, which is expensive and does not offer much benefit from the investment.

“We received lots of these packing foam while we set up our new laboratory and Prof. Vilas Pol suggested doing something useful with the stuffed packaging,” explains Vinodkumar Etacheri, co-author of the study.

Reusing the foam is another example of an efficient reuse of waste.

Unlike graphite used in most current lithium batteries, carbon generated from heating the foam would make batteries last longer, thus it offers superior performance.

The only catch is that it would be expensive (and quite impractical) making the foam exclusively for batteries. The process would add an extra cost that is not worth it.

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